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How to control your USB enabled scope with Stellarium Mobile Plus

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#1 adiastra

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Posted 27 January 2020 - 01:50 PM

Thought I would write a little "HowTo" on connecting Stellarium Mobile Plus DIRECTLY to your USB enabled mount. 

 

I have a new Celestron 5SE which comes with a Mini (not micro) USB port at the base of the hand controller. I figured there had to be a way to control the scope using this port connected directly to my mobile phone.. I was absolutely correct. As this is a pretty new option/configuration I am writing up instructions. 

This should work with most USB enabled scopes (see the Stellarium controller compatibility list)

 

First thing is that Stellarium Mobile Plus is NOT the same as the free version. It is currently $9.99 in the Google Play Store. 

 

I have ONLY done this on a Android phone and can confirm it works on Android. As as second piece of software is needed ($0.99 in the Play store) i can not confirm any setup that works on iOS however i would guess that there is a way to do it. 

 

This will work on any android phone that supports USB OTG (or USB On The Go) 

 

Required components of the system 

 

 

Once you have the needed components you will need to configure the BT/USB/TCP Bridge software first. 

Once you do this once you will see that you can setup the software and connection in about 30 seconds. 

You must obviously align your scope before trying to use GoTo. 


Step 1

open the BT/USB/TCP Bridge Pro application and click CONNECT/LISTEN in the first section

Attached Thumbnails

  • Screenshot_20200127-115114.png

Edited by adiastra, 28 January 2020 - 07:17 AM.

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#2 adiastra

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Posted 27 January 2020 - 01:59 PM

Step 2

Select start TCP server

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Edited by adiastra, 27 January 2020 - 02:00 PM.


#3 adiastra

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Posted 27 January 2020 - 02:00 PM

Step 3

Set the port number 5555

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Edited by adiastra, 27 January 2020 - 02:00 PM.

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#4 adiastra

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Posted 27 January 2020 - 02:02 PM

Step 4

You should now see that the first section has a connection. Now let's set up a second section.

 

This IP is what Stellarium will need when we connect to the mount. 

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Edited by adiastra, 27 January 2020 - 02:22 PM.


#5 adiastra

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Posted 27 January 2020 - 02:04 PM

Step 5

Connect your USB adapter to your phone and connect a USB cable between the adapter and your scope. 
 

Step 6

Setup the USB section as shown and make sure you click "USB connect" at the bottom 

Attached Thumbnails

  • Screenshot_20200127-115339.png

Edited by adiastra, 27 January 2020 - 02:06 PM.


#6 adiastra

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Posted 27 January 2020 - 02:06 PM

This is what the result should look like (you will have different IPs)

 

NOTE: A Wifi connection is not required to do this but if you are connected to wifi you will notice that the IP address is on your Wifi network. You could also use your phone as a wifi hotspot to connect other software (from a laptop or  tablet) to your scope. I am not going over those options but if you fiddle with it you will figure it out. 

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  • Screenshot_20200127-115418.png

Edited by adiastra, 27 January 2020 - 03:56 PM.


#7 adiastra

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Posted 27 January 2020 - 02:11 PM

Finally open Stellarium Mobile Plus and find the scope control section 

 

Once you fill out the form with the proper IP (same as your TCP Server IP) and port (5555) slide the "Connect" button over and Stellarium will connect to the mount. 

As you see here mine is already connected. 

 

From there just brows through, select an object and click "GoTo"  (use the hand controller to align your scope first) 

Hope this helps someone

 

Sorry for all the posts, could only do one screenshot per post. 
 

Clear Skies

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Edited by adiastra, 27 January 2020 - 03:57 PM.

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#8 adiastra

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Posted 28 January 2020 - 07:14 AM

The Stellarium developer has included this thread as a resource on its Telescope Control page (at the bottom)
https://www.stellari...um-mobile-plus/



#9 Noah4x4

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Posted 28 January 2020 - 01:27 PM

Excellent write up. A good methodology for those that want to embrace USB and Stellarium Mobile Plus.

 

The only caution I would suggest is that people need to think holistically about both their current and future remote control needs. I didn't and that was an expensive mistake. Tackling these challenges sequentially (rather than holistically) can lead to many unexpected and potentially costly twists and turns. 

 

I first solved scope control using a Celestron WiFi accessory and Android tablet. Then realised that I needed a different PC/Windows solution for my camera. Then having resolved that, I perceived I needed yet another route for autofocusser,  for which I unnecessarily purchased an expensive wireless control unit because it didn't work with my other solutions. Then ran into computing ooomph and power problems. I ended up with three seperate control devices and frustrations galore. USB can also be limited and there are known USB3 conflicts with 2.4ghz WiFi.

 

Eventually, I started again and found one holistic solution for all devices by using 5 ghz WiFi, two (more powerful) computers and Microsoft Windows Pro 10 Remote Desktop. I now have box loads of redundant kit and a mile of discarded USB, ethernet and HDMI cables. The question must always be, if I remote control scope by route X, how will I then control camera and/or other devices? 



#10 adiastra

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Posted 28 January 2020 - 01:54 PM

As far as costs, this is a $20 solution (hardware and software). Up and running with scope control on your Android device for 20 bucks is a great place to start. This method will also work with Meade scopes that have a USB port.

I have been talking to the Stellarium dev(s) and this may be an unnecessary step in the future if they get direct USB communications working. That is not the case at the moment so this solution works for now.   


Edited by adiastra, 28 January 2020 - 01:58 PM.

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#11 drujox

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Posted 20 March 2020 - 12:24 PM

Thanks a lot for Your description. It worked immediately as it should with OTG-cable, Stellarium mobile plus and BT/USB/TCP Bridge Pro.

Saved me quite a lot of money when on the other hand I should have bought a WLAN-module for about $150. This is exactly what I was looking for!



#12 RoGuE_StreaK

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Posted 21 March 2020 - 01:39 AM

NIce write-up.  Does Stellarium Plus have the Satellite plugin like the desktop version?  Could then potentially track the ISS, Hubble etc.

 

One thng that Mike Swanson noted in a recent thread, be very careful of the movements as Stellarium doesn't have anything built-in to avoid mount collisions; it could potentially try to drive your OTA/camera etc. straight through your mount and/or tripod.

 

If power is available, potentially with the likes of a combo USB-to-TTL and MAX232 TTL-to-RS232 board you could connect to a non-USB hand controller, supposedly Stellarium just uses simple slew commands; I'll let the (much) more knowledgeable explore that possibility.  Shouldn't cost more than another $10 or so, but there won't be anything off the shelf.  A possible mini business opportunity for someone?  Geo?



#13 maniack

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Posted 24 March 2020 - 02:33 PM

Thank you for the detailed instructions.  This works great, and is quite easy to setup.  I wish this worked with SkySafari since that's what I've been using already, but it's not the biggest deal.

 

BT/USB/TCP Bridge Pro is currently $1.49, and Stellarium Mobile Plus is $4.99.  So the software cost is a grand total of $6.48 as of now.  For me I already had the cables - a very long mini USB to USB-A cable (from a dashcam that no longer works), and a USB-A to USB-C adapter.  Many modern phones come with that second adapter in the box.



#14 rkaufmann87

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Posted 15 April 2020 - 06:17 PM

I see this could work well for Android based tablets, has anyone successfully connected an IOS device ( iPad or iPhone) to guide their scope?



#15 Mekanikel

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Posted 03 May 2020 - 01:02 AM

Thanks for this, works great. I spent the day looking at BT and wifi dongles which are unfortunately a bit outside my budget currently, when I stumbled onto your post. I connected using your method, however I have the RS-232 on my handset. All that was needed was a USB to RS232 DB9 adapter, fired up straight away. Had everything at hand except the adapter which was $27. Now waiting for the sun to go down. smile.gif smile.gif smile.gif



#16 z3nt4n

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Posted 15 May 2020 - 09:12 AM

Thanks OP for the superb guide!

 

Hope you don't mind helping out with some issues I faced. (Sorry I am not sure how to paste screenshot).

 

I managed to get Stellarium to connect with my scope, but i am getting this message under Stellarium > Telescopes > Error "Get pos => Error : TRX timeout"

I have done my alignment already prior to connecting the scope, and the scope isn't responding to my GOTO.

 

I am on Android, Scope is Nexstar 8SE on a Starsense controller.
 

What am i doing wrong here?

 

I have the full error log but I shall only paste what i think is the portion that is relevant.

---------------
Detected a NexStar-compatible hand controller

V => [1][19]#
maxRespTime=183
P[1][16][254][0][0][0][2] => [5][14]#
P[1][17][254][0][0][0][2] => [5][14]#
P[1][176][254][0][0][0][2] => TRX timeout
m => TRX timeout
J => TRX timeout
Could not get all telescope info: undefined
Continue in degraded mode
Identified telescope info: {"mount":{"hc":{"protocol_name":"NexStar","firmware":{"version":"1.19"},"location":{},"time":{},"protocol_version":70400},"azm_ra_motor":{"firmware":{"version":"5.14"}},"alt_dec_motor":{"firmware":{"version":"5.14"}}}}
e => TRX timeout
Could not get position: Error: TRX timeout
e => TRX timeout
Could not get position: Error: TRX timeout
e => TRX timeout



#17 Procyon

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Posted 20 May 2020 - 12:37 AM

Sounds like rocket science lol.

#18 erangax

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Posted 18 July 2020 - 09:42 AM

Hi All.. im from Sri Lanka and i got my first telescope (6SE) three weeks back and loving it.i did follow everything mentioned in the steps (using usb cable from 6SE hand controller to my Galaxy S20ultra). It worked and was able to slew it. But after few slews it stops working. I had to disconnect all and start from the beggining and it stats working and stop working and cycle goes on.

What could be the issue here. Please help

Thanks
Eranga

#19 Bob Dobbs

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Posted 31 March 2021 - 12:31 PM

I have a Pixel 5 and I keep getting a device initialization error when trying to complete the USB step. Any ideas?

#20 Noah4x4

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Posted 31 March 2021 - 01:07 PM

Hi Erangax and Bob Dobbs....

 

How far are you from the scope when these problems arise? Might the issue be the potential for flaky connections that I warned about in post #9?

 

There are extremely short effective distance limits for both USB and WiFi. In particular, USB 5v power drops off dramatically with each extra metre from a device and WiFi that is distant from the router might need wireless extenders. But without knowing your complete situation it is impossible to diagnose your problem. But if you require too long a USB cable, you  might need 'Active' cables, possibly even self-powered cables. Another known issue with tablet control is that 'Notifications' and 'Battery Savers' can kick in and interrupt things. VPN can also introduce issues. We have seen all of these problems with regular Celestron devices. I suspect this route is not immune to the same challenges.



#21 Bob Dobbs

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Posted 31 March 2021 - 02:08 PM

I'm just using a short cable for testing...four or six feet. Pixel 5 connects to PC no problem. I went into developers options and changed default usb setting to usb connection.

#22 Bob Dobbs

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Posted 31 March 2021 - 02:10 PM

It also gave a message "Check selectsd usb#"

#23 Bob Dobbs

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Posted 31 March 2021 - 02:14 PM

I also went into usb preferences and tried to switch usb controlled by this device (my pixel) but it said it can't switch. I'm going to try connecting with an old Samsung S7 and see if it works.

#24 Bob Dobbs

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Posted 31 March 2021 - 03:06 PM

The same problem occurred when I tried connecting via USB with a Samsung S9.

#25 Bob Dobbs

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Posted 31 March 2021 - 04:39 PM

z3nt4n, I think what we're doing wrong is trying to marry modern technology with a hand controller having hardware from the 1990s. The wifi option seems way too unreliable, so I guess I'll stick with the HC. Using a laptop is just silly for my needs.


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